Kate Culverwell


Year of Birth 1998

Hometown Oxford

Nationality British

College Oriel

Undergrad/Graduate Undergraduate

Year 3rd

What are you studying? Music

What is the most interesting part of your course? Do you have any professional or academic plans after? Composing and getting professionals to play my music is a really great experience. I studied composition at the Guildhall School of Music for a year before I came to Oxford so it’s great to be able to use the skills I learnt there in my course.

Future ambitions? I’m not sure what career path I would like to take yet. But I know my future ambitions definitely involve travelling and seeing as many countries as possible.

How do you balance rowing and academic life? Planning and scheduling and routine. I think there’s a lot to be said for routine and I really enjoy the discipline and productivity of fitting everything in the day. I definitely am better when I have more to do as it really ensures you are smart with your time.

When did you start rowing, and why? Age 11 because my school had a good competitive team and many of the girls tried it. From there I’ve just really enjoyed it and made some of my greatest friends from rowing.

What was your first club? Headington School Oxford Boat Club.

What is your favourite part of rowing for Oxford? Being able to work hard and see improvements in something other than academics. I think in such an intense academic environment it is good to have another focus during your time at Oxford, particularly one that involves exercise and being in the outdoors. In lockdown it’s definitely been a great way to make yourself take a break from sitting and working at your desk all day.

What’s your rowing history, and what has been your biggest achievement so far? I rowed throughout school and then after two gap years, rowed at Oriel College and was captain last year. I then decided to make the leap to trial in my final year. Biggest achievement is gold at National Schools.

Have you raced in the Boat Race before? If yes, when? No.

Your favourite race so far? The Armada Cup in Switzerland. A 9km singles race that now sadly no longer exists. It involved hundreds of rowers at a free for all start line, so many people crashed and capsized. It was definitely a race to remember. It is probably also the most beautiful place I’ve been lucky enough to row at, with beautiful mountains and glacial water.

Do you have any race day habits or superstitions? At school we used to have team habits, but now I think it’s best to just do what you feel is best for you on the day and the night before.

Your sporting idol? Muhammad Ali.

If you could have any sportsperson in your crew, who would it be? Katherine Grainger.

What gets you through a tough session? Do you have a mantra, rituals? It always seems impossible until it’s done. I think it’s always best just to get your head down and get on with it.

Any hobbies, other interests outside rowing? Kayaking - in 2018 I organised a world first 4,300km tandem kayak from London to the Black Sea in Romania. It was fully paid from sponsorship and I also raised £60,000 for charity. It was a great trip and definitely increased my enjoyment of kayaking as a hobby. My work with the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action also developed from there and I have since had parliamentary meetings and done several talks, radio and TV interviews about what they do.

How do you motivate yourself and your teammates, especially with Covid restrictions? We erg on Zoom together and meet up regularly for walks to check in on each other. It’s definitely important to meet up outside just rowing events and Zoom calls. I organise and schedule training for myself so I fit it into my week and hold myself accountable. I lived with three men from the Oxford rowing teams so it was useful to schedule our training around each other to use the erg. It was also motivating to see people train around you and we all helped push each other on during erg test days.